When Uniqlo launched its first collection with British Japanese designer Hana Tajima in 2015, I remember taking a trip to the NYC flagship just to see the pieces up close. There wasn't the plethora of modest fashion you see today when I was a teenager, so as a modest dresser, I would look for the outfits of icons like Tajima and Yuna on Tumblr and save them for fashion inspiration. Fast-forward to 2021, Tajima's collaboration with Uniqlo is still going strong, and she's preparing for her latest drop. Her newest pieces are minimal and lightweight but are perfect for the warmer weather in palette and silhouette.
Her collection launched today, and I got the chance to not only talk to the designer but also to try on a few of the pieces for myself. Her main goal was to make items that feel effortless, that you can throw on easily, and that have an elevated, no-fuss look. It can often be a tricky process to put together a modest outfit, so any piece that is designed to make that process easier is much needed. Consisting of muted tones and linen-blend fabrics, the pieces certainly will appeal to those who dress outside of modesty as well, even in the warmer weather. A wrap-around skirt, relaxed trousers, and delicate silk scarves all make for perfect additions to anyone's spring and summer wardrobe.
Below, you can find Tajima's thoughts on designing and a few of her expert tips for dressing modestly and creating her wardrobe. Keep scrolling to see the pieces I got to try out in the collection and to shop them. All I can tell you right now is that the pieces are as comfortable as they can get, and they certainly don't skip out on the design.
You've been a long-time collaborator with Uniqlo. What inspires you to keep designing?
I started designing from a young age and haven't really stopped. There is something about the balance of art, function, and movement in each piece of clothing that keeps my mind fixated. For me, designing is much more about the process than the product. So in that way, it's about changing my approach, looking at different methods of construction to get a more adaptive fit, or exploring new and interesting fabrics.
I write about modest dressing quite a bit here on Who What Wear. Do you have any tips you'd like to share with readers who also dress modestly or want to explore the style?
I'm so glad women like you exist to help navigate a world that can sometimes seem daunting. When I became Muslim (16-ish years ago), I went from having a strong and distinct sense of my own style to being completely lost. I would try clothes that my Arab or Bangladeshi sisters would give me. Beautiful clothes, but it didn't feel like a style that belonged to me. Eventually, I started to scour vintage stores and make my own skirts and dresses. But it takes time and is always changing.
If in doubt, keep it simple. Find those staples you can rely on—a dress or shirt and pants—and build a wardrobe from there. Lastly, if you're working with loose silhouettes, you can still think about proportion. A lot of my pieces utilize unusual body seams to add subtle shapes. Texture and layers can also help when you're more covered. It helps to give depth and breaks up the line of the body a little.
Experiment and be patient and kind to yourself and your body. Allow yourself to dress in all sorts of styles, and eventually, you'll find yourself in there.
What’s your favorite piece from the current collection?
Perhaps the piece I've worn most are the linen-blend pants. I wanted to create a piece that was completely effortless. You can throw on a T-shirt and wear it all day without feeling over- or underdressed. Then, slip on the linen-blend jacket and a colorful heel and suddenly it's this elegant, unfussy head-to-toe look.
What do you keep in mind while designing clothing that's perfect for warmer weather but still modest?
Fabric is the best way to deal with the warmer weather. Your skin has to be able to breathe. Linen, cotton, and lyocell are all great for this, and other natural fibers, too. That and creating tailored silhouettes that sit away from the body just enough to let it feel airy. One detail that I've been developing is a kaftan-style sleeve that was based on a vintage detail I studied. It drops the armhole away from the underarm, giving more space and air. We used that construction on the Ramie blouse and linen-blend jacket.
I love wearing blazers and end up dreading the end of spring and the start of summer because I have to let go of them. I won't have that feeling anymore because this blazer has the structural element that blazers bring while keeping you comfortable in the warm weather with its blend of linen.